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Unions, Dynamism, and Economic Performance

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  • Hirsch, Barry

    () (Georgia State University)

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between economic performance and US unionism, focusing first on what we do and do not know based on empirical research handicapped by limited data on establishment and firm level collective bargaining coverage. Evidence on the relationship of unions with wages, productivity, profitability, investment, debt, employment growth, and business failures are all relevant in assessing the future of unions and public policy with respect to unions. A reasonably coherent story emerges from the empirical literature, albeit one that rests heavily on evidence that is dated and (arguably) unable to identify truly causal effects. The paper’s principal thesis is that union decline has been tied fundamentally to competitive forces and economic dynamism. Implications of these findings for labor law policy and the future of worker voice institutions is discussed briefly in a final section.

Suggested Citation

  • Hirsch, Barry, 2010. "Unions, Dynamism, and Economic Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 5342, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5342
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Nicole Guertzgen, 2009. "Rent-sharing and Collective Bargaining Coverage: Evidence from Linked Employer-Employee Data," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 111(2), pages 323-349, June.
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    12. Connolly, Robert A & Hirsch, Barry T & Hirschey, Mark, 1986. "Union Rent Seeking, Intangible Capital, and Market Value of the Firm," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(4), pages 567-577, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Balsmeier, Benjamin, 2017. "Unions, collective relations laws and R&D investment in emerging and developing countries," Research Policy, Elsevier, pages 292-304.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic performance; unions; dynamism; competition;

    JEL classification:

    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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